On his way to his betrothal, young Lord Penric comes upon a riding accident with an elderly lady on the ground, her maidservant and guardsmen distraught. As he approaches to help, he discovers that the lady is a Temple divine, servant to the five gods of this world. Her avowed god is the Bastard, "master of all disasters out of season", and with her dying breath she bequeaths her mysterious powers to Penric. From that moment on, Penric's life is irreversibly changed, and his life is in danger from those who envy or fear him.
Set in the fantasy world of the author's acclaimed novels The Curse of Chalion, Paladin of Souls, and The Hallowed Hunt, this novella has the depth of characterization and emotional complexity that distinguishes Bujold's work.
©2016 Lois McMaster Bujold (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!
This brief tale is an enjoyable listen if you're a fan of Lois McMaster Bujold's wonderful character-driven fantasy, and if you've already read her magnificent "Curse of Chalion."
"Penric's Demon" takes place in the same world as "Chalion"--the World of the Five Gods--although it's set 100 years earlier and in a different country. And in this time and place, the world seems less dark, the gods more benevolent, and the demons less destructive than in "Chalion." Penric, the rather naive younger son of a minor noble family in the sheep-herding, cheese-producing hinterlands, is on his way to his betrothal ceremony when he stops to help a dying old woman. But no good deed goes unpunished. The dying woman is a "learned divine" (priestess) and (oops!) a sorceress, so instead of becoming betrothed, Penric winds up hosting the dead divine's demon, "Desdemona." Grover Gardner, is, as always, a terrific narrator.
To sneak in a review of another book, I strongly suggest reading "The Curse of Chalion" before "Penric" (or any other Five Gods tale). The spellbinding magic and theology of this world is much better served by the slow, subtle, and magnificent unfolding of its mysteries in "Chalion" (and its sequel, "Paladin of Souls") than by the balder and more straightforward presentation in this prequel novella. In fact, Penric inspired me to listen to "Curse of Chalion" again--I first read it two years ago--and I've been even more impressed the second time around. That's saying something, since I was blown away the first time. "Chalion" recently made both Amazon's and Goodreads' "Top 100 SF/Fantasy Reads," and deservedly so; I'd put it in the top 25. It's a superb, beautiful tale of heartbreak and courage, suffering and magic, betrayal and redemption.
I'm not sure whether I heard correctly, and I don't have the printed books to check, but to me Penric's family name sounded suspiciously similar to the family name of two of the major characters in "Curse of Chalion." Makes me wonder if Bujold might have a "bridge" book in the works. Anything she publishes is cause for celebration, so that or any other book from her would be good news!
Since I'd read/listened to the other books in LMB's World of the Five Gods, I looked forward to this new book. It did not disappoint. It stands alone, in that the characters and events are wholly set apart from the others. That being said, having been introduced to this system of gods in prior books, I think it was easier to fall into the pace of the tale. I think the God called the Bastard might be LMB's favorite to work with, since that is the god over disasters, catastrophes, and events that happen out of time. More scope for the imagination, as Anne Shirley might say.
Penric is a young man on his way to his betrothal ceremony. Obviously things happen to change his course, and his life. While he is a country bumpkin of sorts, he isn't stupid, and learns quickly that there are benefits to his changed circumstances, and dangers as well. The events take place pretty quickly, making this tale a perfect length to read between other books.
Grover Gardner narrates the story with the mastery he has shown in LMB's Vorkorsigan books. He is the perfect voice for Penric.
Enjoyable read for all ages! I hope to see an exciting sequel to this story soon.
She can't write them fast enough. Always a treat! Waiting for the next with great eagerness.
while I have greatly enjoyed the other 5 God books and it is practically a knee jerk reaction to buy anything she writes this is just an OK book told in a monotone voice which begs to put you to sleep
I believe I have read or listened to almost all of Lois McMaster Bujold's fiction, and have enjoyed most of it. While not as well known as her Vorkosigan Science Fiction series, her fantasy series set in the "world of the five gods" is also a thought provoking and enjoyable series. I enjoyed Penric's story, and the story of Desdemona, his demon very much indeed, and was delighted to learn that Bujold is thinking about writing another story about them. While this is neither the first published nor the earliest in timeline, I think that it would be a good short introduction to this fantasy world for those who haven't sampled it before and an enjoyable revisiting for those who have read or listened to the other 3 novels. As a novella, it lets the listener sample the world without a lengthy time commitment. Bujold does an excellent job of world building, as always. The story is told from Penric's point of view, and Grover Gardner does a good job of fitting himself into Penric's head.
And enjoyable listen, I recommend it.
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